Kids in London – Jungle Book musical fun

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Posted by KimT on Thursday 8th of February 2018

Move over Disney there’s a new show in town - one that delights the kids, accommodates a variety of musical tastes and gets across some subtle, wholesome messages about difference, diversity and unconventional families.

The audience was filled with kids – some as young as three but most a bit older. Naturally, there were plenty of cub scouts in attendance as it’s the story on which their organisation is based.

There were puppets for Mowgli’s early years and then Keziah Joseph took over the role and played it with passion and pathos. I suspect a lot of kids could relate to her beautifully conveyed feelings of belonging, difference, rebellion, fear and bravery in adversity.

Shere Khan – in a magnificent shiny and stripy suit – was genuinely scary even though he was Elvis-like at times. Vegetarians will shudder at his great song “Raw”. It was great to have Welsh Dyfrig Morris playing rumbustious Balloo – while he wasn’t misbehaving at the water-hole he was vexed with whether or not he could be a good carer. We loved him singing the “balloos”. There was some bhangra dancing in the man-village and calypso-flavoured tunes within the inter-species storyline.

Kaa (played by Rachel Dawson) was a “seriously sad snake” with an upper class accent and a scary attitude in a shiny, undulating tube of a costume. The hip-hop funky monkeys were a genuine crowd pleaser with their frolicking fun and naughtiness. But star of the show for me was Deborah Oyelad playing Bagheera in her feline slinkiness and street-smart wisdom.

Overall, it was a crisp, fresh, gender-busting interpretation by Jessica Swale of Rudyard Kipling’s classic that kept kids rapt through the hour and a half. The staging was simple but clever – suspended ladders form the jungle canopy, a rotating platform supports hunting and chase scenes and the musicians are integrated into the action.

There are 2pm and 7pm performances at Richmond Theatre until Saturday.

If you’re unable to get tickets check out London’s children’s theatres – Polka in Wimbledon and Unicorn at London Bridge.


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